28/07/2021 10:30 BST

Man Survives Massive Fireball Erupting From NYC Sidewalk Grates

A 57-year-old man in Queens is lucky to be alive after a transformer explosion last week.

A pedestrian in the Queens borough of New York City escaped a brush with death last week when a transformer blew up just beneath his feet. 

Footage from the scene shows Barry West, 57 walking down a sidewalk in St. Albans to pay a phone bill on Thursday when a fireball erupted from the grates below.  

“I feel lousy, lousy,” he told the New York Daily News from the hospital, where he’s been in treatment for second-degree burns. “I don’t remember too much. It was – boom! – out of nowhere… I wasn’t able to move and it hurt like hell. I lost some skin all over.”

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The scene of the explosion, captured by Google Street View cameras in November 2020.

A worker at the T-Mobile store that West was heading toward said it sounded like a bomb.

“When it exploded, I felt the heat on my face,” the unnamed worker told the newspaper, which also reported that a similar explosion the day before damaged a pizza place.

One of West’s friends praised divine intervention for saving his life. 

“You can see how God just picked him out of that fire. He staggered. He had his hands up and rubbed his head and fell,” Carrol Hamblin told NBC New York. “Just a miracle. Nobody but God could do that. Not a man.”

Con Edison told WABC in New York it was investigating the incident.

“We express our sincere concern for the victim and our regret for this incident,” the power company said. “We wish him a full and fast recovery.”